Hair porosity is a way to describe how well your hair can absorb and retain moisture. It is one of the criteria that we can describe and classify our hair. Knowing your hair type is extremely useful when choosing hair care products and making the most out of them. The easiest way to determine hair porosity would be checking your hair strand under a microscope. If we don’t have one handy, which probably most of us don’t have, then we need to resort to other methods.
Low Porosity Hair
This type of hair has hair cuticles tightly close to the hair cortex. Low porosity hair cuticles are arranged regularly and it is very difficult to move them. Such hair is resistant to damage, all hairdressing treatments, but also styling.
Low porosity hair are naturally healthy, smooth and shiny (regardless of the cosmetics we use). They do not require an extensive hair care. If you have low porosity hair, you should try and limit the amount of products you use on your hair, because it can way down the hair and make it look dull.
If you have low porosity hair try to stick to protein-free, daily conditioners with humectants such as glycerin or honey. Use protein free conditioner and low heat to open up cuticles and let conditioner ingredients to get deeper into your hair.
Low porosity hair requires moisturisers rich in emollients such as shea butter, jojoba oil, coconut oil and mineral oil (although I tend to avoid skin and hair care products with Mineral Oil). Humectants, which attract and hold moisture to your hair can do wonders for your hair as well. Choose lighter, liquid-based products such as hair milks that will not build up on your hair and make it look greasy.
High Porosity Hair
High porosity hair has gaps in between hair cuticles, which let too much moisture into your hair. It leaves your hair prone to frizz and tangling in humid weather.
The hair may have increased porosity due to damage caused by hairdressing procedures, insufficient protection or improper care, or might be just naturally highly porous. Curly hair has usually high porosity hair. A high porosity hair has an irregularly distributed cuticles that strongly protrude from the hair cortex and react very easily to changes in temperature or humidity. Even if we can temporarily close the cuticles with proper treatment, it is never a lasting effect. High porosity hair is extremely sensitive and easily damaged, it is very susceptible to styling, dyeing and other hairdressing treatments. High porous hair needs all the protection it can get when exposed to any styling and harsh weather conditions. If you have high porosity care and you do not care for your hair correctly, then your hair over time will become dull, rough and straw like. Fortunately, with proper care, you would be able to slightly lower the porosity of the hair and make it look shiny and healthy.
Even simple everyday things such as bathing, swimming and shampooing can create more damage and breakage due to the amount of moisture highly porous hair can absorb.
Be sure to use anti-frizz products in climates with high heat and humidity. This will help seal your damaged cuticles and prevent them from absorbing moisture from the air.
Because highly porous hair can not only absorb moisture from the air but also lose moisture easily, it’s important to use leave-in conditioners. You can even use a heavy hair butter to help fill the gaps in your damaged cuticles and protect your hair from losing too much moisture.
Normal Porosity Hair
Most hair has a porosity that can be described as average. Normal porosity hair cuticles are arranged rather regularly and slightly protrude from the hair’s cortex. Such hair is usually the easiest to care for. If you can not determine the porosity yourself, then you probably have normal porosity hair.
Check what Hair type you Have
The float test
- Fill a glass or bowl with room temperature water.
- Take a couple strands of your clean hair and put them in the water. Your hair must be clean and leave-in conditioner or oil free. If you have oils or products on your hair, it will alter your results.
- Watch it for 2-4 minutes.
- If your hair sinks immediately, it has high porosity. Your hair absorbed the water quickly and sank quickly.
- If your hair is still floating 4 minutes later, it has low porosity. You have low porosity hair.
- If your hair is slowly sinking, you have normal porosity.
This test showed for me that I have a low porosity hair, yet I am not convinced.
The Slide Test
- Grab a strand of hair on your head.
- Starting from the end of your hair, slide your fingers up the hair shaft towards your scalp.
- If you have a bumpy ride, you have high porosity hair. If your hair felt smooth, you have low porosity hair.
According to this test my hair seems highly porous.
The Spray Bottle Test
- Take a small section of your hair and pin the rest back.
- Spray that section with a little water, just enough to mist it.
- If the water sits on top of your hair or beads up, you have low porosity hair.
- If your hair absorbs the water quickly, you have high porosity hair.
- If the water sits on your hair for several minutes then is absorbed, you have normal porosity hair.
Here it seems I have low to normal porosity hair.
Can’t wait to get my hair tested under a microscope. I have a feeling I have a mix of all three hair types. My roots are normal to low porosity and the rest is more porous and damaged due to hair dyes and bleaching. Is that even possible lol. Up until I started dying my hair lighter my hair was smooth and soft. I could go on for hours or even days without brushing my hair and it still looked nice. Now my hair tangles easily and it is very difficult to brush my hair in the morning, so annoying. It actually takes me a good few minutes to gently brush it. My hair always gets very frizzy after dying my hair and I have to condition it well days after my hair dye appointment to make it stronger and prevent split ends.
What hair type do you think you have?